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As a variety of names are now being floated for presidential running mates, Republican candidate Ron Paul says ousted Fox News host Judge Andrew Napolitano might be at the top of his list.

Paul was asked the question about whom he would like on a White House ticket with him at a recent public meeting, and he said, “One time somebody asked me who I’d have to consider and the name Judge Napolitano jumps right out at me.”

While the audience erupted with cheers of approval, Paul continued: “But when you think about the danger of mentioning one or two means you’re not going to mention quite a few others that would certainly be qualified. That’s a great story, you know, the fact that there are a lot of people now that are well-known and well-educated and know the issues and would do a very good job.”

Napolitano’s “Freedom Watch” show was recently canceled by the Fox Business Channel, but during numerous on-air segments, Napolitano had frequent flattering remarks about Paul, while criticizing other presidential hopefuls including former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.

“There is a hunger in the land for a game changer, and Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum are not up to that,” Napolitano said in early January. “There is a need in the country for a government that stays within the confines of the Constitution, or we’ll all end up like the socialists in Europe, and Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum are not up to that. There is a rumbling in the countryside that the government should shrink and live within its means, and Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum are not gonna make that happen.”

With a giant photo of Paul on the screen behind him, Napolitano said, “Only one man remains faithful to the principles of free market and small government, to the Constitution and to personal freedom, to defending the nation without being the world’s police force. Only one. You know who he is.”

Judge Andrew Napolitano examines the concept the government hates and fears the most: Freedom. Read the judge’s new book, “It Is Dangerous to Be Right When the Government Is Wrong.”

On another program this month, Napolitano asked, “What if Ron Paul is being ignored by the media not because, as he claims, he’s unappealing or unelectable, but because he doesn’t fit into the premanufactured, public-opinion mold used by the establishment to pigeon-hole the electorate, and create the so-called narrative that drives media coverage of elections?”

On the same show, the judge noted, “What if Rick Santorum is being embraced by voters who want small government, even though Senator Santorum voted for the Patriot Act, for an expansion of Medicare and for raising the debt ceiling by trillions of dollars? What if Mitt Romney is being embraced by voters who want anyone but Barack Obama, but they don’t realize that Mitt Romney might as well be Barack Obama on everything from warfare to welfare?”

Napolitano’s support for Paul is not new.

In a 2007 speech, the judge had more praise, saying, “The Thomas Jefferson of our day, Ron Paul, is one of us!”

While Paul considers his running-mate options, WND reported yesterday on a new national poll of Republicans and independents revealing Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio is the top choice for the vice-presidential slot on the GOP ticket this year, despite his avowed non-interest and the fact he may not even be constitutionally eligible to hold the office, since his parents were not U.S. citizens when he was born, raising doubt about his natural-born citizenship.

The national survey of 800 registered voters by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind shows Rubio receiving 66 mentions, more than 8 percent of the time, followed by Santorum, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann and, surprisingly, Democrat Hillary Clinton.

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